Ask Me Anything: Professional Property Managers edition with Gianbattista Vespucci

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    Gianbattista Vespucci

    Ciao!

    Thanks for your feedback everyone, it’s great to see that you are taking the time to share your experience with us. We love hearing when you’re successful on Booking.com, but it’s equally as important to us when you take the time to share your pain points. This gives us an opportunity to continue to listen to your needs and improve what we offer you.

    I have reviewed all of your questions and tried to select at least one from each of you. Since some questions were on similar topics I have combined a few in my responses below. A couple of times you’ve made suggestions that are particularly relevant for our team of developers, so I have collected them and forwarded them to our Tech department so they can take action.

    It is great to see how passionate our partners are about their business and getting critical (a strong) feedback like we received as part of this activity is incredibly important for us so we can keep improving our offering to you. Thank you for participating in this conversation and keep challenging us!

    Cheers,

    Gianbattista Vespucci

     

    I am listed on multiple listing sites and I am getting double bookings. How can I avoid this?

    First of all, I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing this issue on our platform. Clearly a double booking is a very unpleasant experience for everyone involved so making sure that your availability is correctly updated across different platforms is a very important step in preventing such issues.

    For this reason, we offer a number of options to enable you to make this synchronization as smooth as possible. Depending on how you choose to connect with us you can either check out this article on how to import or export a calendar via iCal, or have a look at this section of our Knowledge Base in case you are using a Channel Manager Software. 

    If you are connected via a Channel Manager it’s very important that everything is set up correctly on both sides. If that’s the case it might be worth for you to get in touch with the Channel Manager as well to get their perspective. Of course if you would like to speak with one of our advisors with the actual details of your individual case you can do so at any time as we offer 24/7 support lines. You can find instructions on how to contact us here. I hope this will get resolved soon!

    How can I make sure my booking restrictions are correctly set?

    Once you’ve set up your restrictions a very quick way to check if they work correctly would be to go on our website and try to book it as a guest. You’ll be able to find out how things work ‘on the other side’ and maybe also spot something else that might be in need of a quick improvement, such as that old picture from before the renovation that really needs changing.

    It’s also worth considering that setting up special rules can limit your visibility on our platform and therefore might impact the number of bookings you get. For this reason, it’s a good idea to try to strike a balance between offering enough freedom to your guests, while respecting your booking policies.

     More information how to set up any restrictions (we offer many different types) can be found here.

    How can I set up my local tax settings?

    Depending on how you choose to set it up, city tax can be displayed as either included or excluded in the price guests see during the booking process. You can change your tax settings using these instructions.

    We currently do not offer different local tax rates for different age groups, however this is an important topic, so we will explore how we can make this easier for you in the future.

    How can I import/export/synchronise the calendar of individual private rooms with other listing sites?

    You can read about the many different ways to synchronize calendars on our platform here.

    Not all of them, however, are currently available for all property types. The ability to import calendars, for example, is not available to partners with multiple rooms. As we’re always looking at ways to improve, I will pass this feedback on to our product development teams. 

    The Group Extranet only shows 5 of my properties at once. Can I change this?

    Our product teams and developers are currently working on a resolving this, so we hope to be sharing an update soon. Thanks for being patient with us as we perfect this new product!

    What are you doing to improve guest payments and cancellations?

    We know these topics can be a source of serious frustration for our partners, so we are working hard at resolving the issues around it. I’m happy to share that we now have a tech team dedicated to solving some of your biggest pain points with cancellations – two of them actually did a presentation about this at Click, our global partner event in Amsterdam, so some of you may have seen them there. The team has conducted research and added new features on our website designed to reduce harmful cancellations – such as checking more credit cards and making it harder for guests make overlapping bookings. We’ll be sharing more details soon, so please keep an eye in your inbox. I really hope your business will feel the impact of these innovations and cancellations will be less of an issue soon.

    As far as payments, I know this is also a frustrating topic, and one that can get very complicated. My colleague Morten Larsen just did an Ask Me Anything on payments, you can check it out here.

    Can I flag guests that have damaged one or more of my properties?

    Yes! I am happy to share that we have recently introduced a Reporting Guest Misconduct feature which allows you to block a particular guest after their stay from booking any of the properties in your portfolio.

    As a host myself, I share your concerns here. Opening your properties for business poses some inherent risks. Thankfully, the vast majority of reservations proceed with no issues at all. But I’m happy we can offer you tools like the Reporting Guest Misconduct feature when problems do arise. If you have any more feedback on this, we’d love to hear it! Please share it with us via your property Inbox.

    Why can we only collect Damage Deposits no earlier than 14 days in advance?

    Many travellers – particularly international guests – book their trips months in advance. Therefore, requesting a damage deposit too far ahead of their stay can sometimes put people off making a booking, or cause them to cancel if they’ve already booked.

    That’s why properties can only collect damage deposits a maximum of two weeks ahead of time. Our thinking is not to make things more complicated for you, we just don’t want this feature to impact property performance – and our research shows that collecting deposits too far in advance can impact your bookings.

    We believe this feature can improve guests’ overall experience of your property, help you attract more international guests, and potentially reduce cancellations.

    I feel the new Trust & Safety features do not add a lot of value to me.

    Thanks for your feedback. I’m sorry to hear that these new features don’t feel useful for your property. 

    To give the full context, we developed all of the Trust and Safety features based on interviews, surveys, and workshops with real partners. We used these insights to tailor the new features to partner needs. I can of course understand that the same solution might be perceived differently by different partners, so I appreciate your feedback that these new features might not be the best for your particular property. We’re always trying to improve our products, and that’s exactly why we are glad to be having this conversation. Please share more of your thoughts on these features via your property inbox – that way we can get more insights into what can be improved.

    If you want any more info our Trust & Safety features, check out the Knowledge Base here and here.

    When I call Customer Service, I feel like they only know the hotel business.

    I’m sorry to hear about this experience with our Customer Service. Please be assured that we are continuously updating our teams with new knowledge about our partners, their properties and the feedback that we get from them. That includes making sure our Customer Service agents are knowledgeable about different property types and able to support your particular needs. 

    With thousands of people dedicated to answering calls and messages from partners like you, there is definitely room for improvement in educating each of these colleagues on the needs of non-hotel properties. I assure you we will take this feedback on board and continually monitor the quality of our services. I hope your next experience is a better one! 

    Is there a reason why I cannot change my description?

    I understand the desire to add a personal touch to your listings. Maybe I can shed some light on why we set property descriptions and clarify that the intention is help your property get more bookings – not to restrict you in any way.

    At Booking.com we strongly believe in the power of experimentation to optimize our product. For this reason we run daily over 1000 ‘experiments’ on our platforms, with the purpose of making sure its performance is the best that it can be. We have done the same for property descriptions, and over the years have found the ideal version for attracting potential guests. 

    Following this logic, property descriptions are created to perfect the booker experience on our platform and to ensure the most relevant audience will find your listing. This means, for example, that your properties will show up in search results because of certain keywords that are used in your description. Similarly, we will translate your property description in over 40 languages based on where your guests are coming from.

    I hope this explanation shows that you can trust that the current version of your page has been scientifically engineered to be optimal for attracting the most guests. There is still room for personalisation of course, so please check out this article where you can find out more about, for example, how to make use of our new Host Profile feature. There are multiple teams in the organization working on improving the exposure of Host Profiles during several steps of customer journey, beyond just your property listing page.

    I report to multiple owners, are there any plans to introduce an invoicing structure where individual properties are shown? Can we introduce property specific codes for use in such communication?

    Thanks for your suggestion! Feedback like this is exactly why we recently introduced a number of bulk actions that allow you to make changes to all the properties at the same time. You can read more about these here.  Great idea around invoicing structure, I will make sure the right team sees it.

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    Le Balcon des Jasses

    November came great, glosed one month. But December will be busy, thank you Booking.com to keep us running fast.

    All the best to everybody From 

    Le Balcon des Jasses 

    Lucy

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    Westendbreezeroatan

    My listing description is totally incorrect, no tax is included, Ive complained and requested help several times, and received no help. I have had 10 bookings and 8 cancellations due to mis-information. I am in Honduras and asked for customer service in several countries cause there is no c/s in our country. How can I get help for changes to my listing?? Totally frustrated with this site!! 

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    Luciano (Lou)

    Gianbattista;

    We are new to short term holiday rental business and have listed 2 apartments with Booking.com, Airbnb and Homeaway, Unfortunately we have had some issues with double booking especially with Airbnb, therefore we are thinking about subscribing to the Nuevo Hospitality service or other.

    Can you please suggest other or your advice on best way forward

    Ciao

    Luciano

    Arena Blanca Holiday Home

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    Guldeniz0

    Hi GianbattistaI
    I am new to Booking.com and trying put all my listings to Booking .com.
    I have add private rooms for B&B but Sync calendar is not available . I had no problem with entire property but some reason I can't find the options for import and export calendars in my private rooms?
    Many thanks
    Gul

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    jaybeegee

    A common request from owners frequenting the forum is the inability to flag guests that have damaged properties which is available with other booking engines - are there plans to introduce this?

    Also similarly a standard feature on other booking engines is to handle the damage deposit which again is not available on booking.com - this is a painful process for us owners (especially apartment owners) and will require someone to be onsite and guest cannot avail themselves of selfcheckin - is it likely to be introduced?

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    Leandri Klopper

    Dear Gianbattista Vespucci 

    Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to provide us with much anticipated answers! These AMA's are such a great help, not just for those who ask the questions now but even to those who will come after and find this post useful. 

    I'd like to firstly build on jaybeegee 's question regarding the Report Misconduct system. 
    1. Would you mind explaining the purpose to this function?
    Specifically, is this tool here to help the property owner retrieve payment for the damages? Is the tool there to "blacklist" or "flag" guests who behave poorly with the intent to eventually block them from using the website? Is the tool there for moral support? (I say the last one with a tongue in cheek as I've reported a few guests now and always receive a lovely message from your consultants advising me that they are here for me, which is Excellent, but they never specify what they can do for me other than investigate whether or not they will wave the commission for the booking). Is the purpose of the tool then to wave commission? (If you could perhaps just shed some light here, we would most appreciate it). 

    2. Is there a list, or can a list be crafted for the knowledge base, of all the Trust and Safety features you are referring to? I ask because I've had to go through trail and error, and posting on the forum, to learn of some features. Perhaps if it's set out with good descriptions (maybe even examples) we could utilize these better? 

    3. Here is a question that occurs a lot on the forum. I have a "prepayment of the total amount at any time" policy (this is to avoid cancellations or no shows without payment). According to the Booking.com instant confirmation model, the booking needs to be honored even if the client only makes the prepayment on the day before occupation, if I understand it right? Any advise on how to inform guests that the Full payment must be paid on a specific date based on the check in date of what they've confirmed. Are there meassures that can be put in place to give the Prepayment/payment policies more options? 

    Lastly, 4. The Fine Print. I've had so many ups and downs with this tool, because it seems like it should work. You can add the important information there and guests needs to accept it before they can book which means you can hold them to this. Only, the concensus on the forum is that none of the guests reads that nor do they follow it. Are there some advancements coming on this tool? A good suggestion from a partner was to add an Accept button where the guest has to accept the information on the Fine print. 

    Thank you again for your time, we really do appreciate your valueable information!

     

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    M Adamopoulou

    Dear Gianbattista Vespucci I would like to thank in advance for trying to support probably managers. Especially for us newbies there’s so many things to learn, so many things I discover over and over in this helpful forum. So far my experience with guests is excellent all the way. I am a little worried though with safety. How can we be protected from guests not behaving with the house rules?

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    M Adamopoulou

    Sorry for the mistakes but I am using my mobile and writing in this small block is very hard. Thank you again for your kind support.

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    Akwador

    Hi,

    We are in Malta and have an Environmental Tax of €0.50 per guest per night to a maximum of €5.00.

    Regrettably the Booking .com software does not also take into account that this only applies to guests over 18 - so when we get 2 guests, 1 Adult and 1 Child the amount is calculated for two guests rather than just one.

    Can you please bring this to the attention of the IT Department and ask if they can add it to their list of fixes please?

     

    Thank you.

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    Yoke Wen

    Hi I am having a problem,when guests booking my unit,where to choose the how many pax to fit in a apartment?

     

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    Frode

    Dear Booking.com

    Sometimes you introduce changes that makes our day to day work a lot more complicated. We run a business in Lofoten, Norway that have a pretty large number of holiday homes.

    We log in to a group site where we can manage all the properties. This site has now been so “destroyed” by the new setting that only lists 5 houses at the time. We need to manually adjust so we can see 20 (that’s the max setting) every time we go in or even go back to this page. We do this a lot every day. Now it feels like a obstruction to our work.

    We can’t understand that anyone can enjoy these settings. We really hope that you turn around and give us the hole page view back as soon as possible.

    Thanks!

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    Brandi

    I used to have all of my properties listed on Booking.com, however I pulled all of them due to each and every booking that came in had some sort of problem with the guest not being charged what they though they were going to be charged.  We made sure that all of our information was correct in the system, but somehow the correct total was never conveyed to the guest and when they found out what the correct amount, they complained or cancelled and it ended up reflecting poorly on my company.  I was just a local hotel and lodging meeting in my area and I found out other companies had the same problem with booking.com.  I had a lengthy meeting with my account rep, however, we were not able to come up with a solution to the problem, so I pulled my listings.  I would very much like to list on booking.com but until this issue can be resolved, I will not list.  I'm wondering if booking.com would like to address this.

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    Le Balcon des Jasses

    Hi

    Interesting...... can you be a little more concrete. I have work with Booking.com over 10 years, and Never had this kind of problems

    Le Balcon des Jasses

    Lucy

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    Brandi

    I think it has something to do with when the guest books from their phone, it doesn't show all the fees (taxes and cleaning e.g) and they see a total that they think they are being charged and they actually get charged a higher amount.  So when they see how much they were charged, they get angry and call to complain or cancel.  I've reported it to booking.com but they can't seem to fix the problem for us.

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    k2u

    It seems to be a lot of the problems I see here have to do with what the guests see when they book. They are told in advance your rate does not include any taxes and the guest will be charged whatever the taxes are at payment time. I feel that your guests are not reading the booking in its entirety to see all costs. 

    We here do not charge the guest until they arrive unless they fall into our cancellation policy, then charged in full without refund. We do this because they then are able to see all charges and must sign the credit card slip. We do though have guests arrive past our check in times, in this case we make special arrangements for payment and room entry (they are then fully aware of the charges). We will talk over the phone if they are going to be late (meaning after we close) If the guest does not respond to our attempts of contact by phone, message through BDC or BDC attempting to reach them because they have failed to "Read" the policies and check in and check out times. We will then consider them as a No Show or cancellation and charge their card accordingly.

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    Brandi

    I agree that it seems the guest is not reading the information about taxes and any other fees, however, in our case it is nearly every guest that we have this problem with.  And they get mad when they find out what the real total is and most of the time cancel.  I do not have this problem with other booking sites, so it became very frustrating and not worth the effort to be listed on Booking.com.  I wish they would correct this issue.

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    k2u

    And you've tried to reach out to them regarding this ? Which dept. ? I am sorry that you are having such an issue. 

    I personally have had no problems with them.. kind of. Lately they have been opening rooms that I have closed over and over again. If I do not have the inventory and have closed the rooms, that means NO. I have reached out to them and not a sole responds regarding this. Daily I seem to have to go in and reclose them. Could be overbookings and I am not going to responsible for the cost of relocating the guest. Of course I would help the guest find somewhere to go, although not our fault. 

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    Escapetostives

    I have never had the misfortune to read such self congratulatory rubbish before.

    I am a property manager that has been trying to list up to 40 properties since July - without success or any support from Booking.com.

    Booking.com clearly do not understand how property managers operate or how the market works.  There insistence that I collect Damage Deposits in cash on the day of arrival illustrates there complete detachment from reality.  

    I have discussed this with Customer Services Representatives that are clearly familiar with the hotel industry and can only refer to procedure.  They all promise to get the local office to call me but the mysterious local office has yet to speak with me.

    They will graciously allow us to collect Damage Deposits 14 days in advance (their market intelligence apparently says that any earlier discourages bookings - that is news to me and everyone else in the industry) but only after they determine that I can be trusted.  This is despite the fact that I own a hotel and have regularly paid them several thousand pounds per month for several years.  And still they cannot trust me!

     

    Overall, a company with no understanding, poorly constructed business policies  and ineffective customer liaison - why bother with them?

    On the plus side - they are excellent in the Hotel business.

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    fluff

    I'll have a little bash at this and see if anyone agrees. Some points may seem harsh, so I shall apologise for my lack of rosy writing, I save that for my guests. 

    In a shooting from the hip style, here we go!

     

    • How to make the most of our instant confirmation model.
    • This would be much better if linked to a secure and instant payment system that worked for ALL partners which in turn paid the partners promptly.

     

    • How to balance the need between protecting your property and maximizing bookings.
    • Not possible without the above.

     

    • How to benefit from our new Trust and Safety Features, such as the House RulesGuest Requirements and Reporting Guest Misconduct.
    • All very toothless, fancy names for very little. Guests flout all of these with total abandon as there are no consequences. 

     

    • How to showcase your individuality using our new Host Profiles tool.
    • I've actually been asking guests if they read this and have had a resounding zero percent thus far. If they don't scroll down to policies or fine print they are even less likely to look at a profile. While the idea of having our own wording available is good, it would be better served as the main description with only minor changes to allow the BDC system for SEO to function. The inherited descriptions from BDC are appalling at best. After months of badgering and cajoling we end up with a description which is sort-of acceptable as we have become exhausted trying to get it straight.

    Pistol returned to holster, rosy mode back on for my guests. ;-)

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    Ester Vastarella

    Good evening, I have a nice and new vacation home of about 100 square meters, but I can not launch it on the Booking market as it deserves. I know that in my city the competition is a lot and ruthless, but I can not find the right help. The call center staff I have often addressed to, is very kind, but they are nothing more than "yes men" that repeat tips learned by heart. Even the description is without soul and incorrect in some points. A list of distances and not a highlight of the positive points of the location. For example, many times I have tried to explain that the structure is located only 50 meters from a railway station that takes only 3 minutes to the historic center (Spaccanapoli) and only 350 meters from the Mergellina Metro station that leads to the Central Station of the city, but my protests are unheard and, map in hand, respond that they are not true. Yet other structures in the immediate vicinity, report the aforementioned wording. MAH !!! RUBBER WALLS. AND IT IS TRUE. We have become easily blackmailed by guests who, in exchange for a positive review, ask you for the moon. Last year I worked well with Booking with another structure. But this year ... I would not recommend it to anyone. Was it a bubble that is now ready to burst?

     

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    k2u

    How is possible that I close my rooms off due to NO VACANCY, but still somehow we are receiving bookings ? I have the ability to open to close our rooms. When it becomes 0 I close the rooms. So why is BDC reopening them ??? And do not tell me that its not BDC, it definitely is. I am the only one here that has access to this besides BDC.  

    Another question, I have for this weekend put a 2 night restriction on the rooms.. I just received a booking for 1 night.  So I go check to see if I may have overlooked that room type, but... no I did not. Restriction is still there. 

    Point is it is NOT up to BDC to choose my restrictions nor open rooms that I do not have !! Please direct me to who or which department to speak with that will do something 

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    Info

    Hello,

    Some things I, as a professional property manager, am missing on Booking.com.
    Taking in consideration that we have "left" Booking.com on 3 separate occasions in the past 10 years due to the fact that they were not "ready" to host short term apartment rentals and the extreme high cancellation rate.
    Now with payment by Booking.com in association with a zero refund, we no longer have any cancellations without reason and are pleased with the number of reservations received.

    1. Simplified statement / invoice (1 document) clearly referring to payment / guest / property.
     - we report to multiple owners, to have to search for the corresponding property with each payment takes up too much time and is not necessary especially if cleaning fees are excluded from the invoice making every payment an extensive calculation.

    2. In conjunction with the above, perhaps a code we can use to identify properties which appears in communications (including in messages instead of a copy of the entire property title.

    3. A mention of the damage deposit required on the page of the reservation and possibly a more clear mention to the guest that they are expected to pay this on arrival.

    4. The possibility to reduce fees for owners by perhaps introducing a fee for guests.
     - In my experience guests only look at what they have to pay, whether the fee is increased with the fee charged by us or separately by Booking.com makes no difference to the guest, they pay the same in the end, but to the host it is a saving and brings it more on par with ALL other OTA´s.
    Currently we have to increase the visible price more for Booking.com compared to other OTA´s because they charge less to the hosts.

    5. A group home with no limitation to the number of properties visible.
     - (currently 5, cant see any benefit to this. The chance we need to see / edit anything in the first 5 properties is almost nihil if there are more than 10 in total.

    6. The possibility to alter prices / availability "endlessly" and over current reservations (not altering the current reservations!) without the calendar closing dates or giving error messages.

    7. The possibility to batch edit multiple / all properties from the group home.

    8. Error message when a sync calendar is not installed or not functioning.

    9. Provide information to hosts if and when owners / property information is shared with Government agencies.


    Martin
    Tenerife
    Canary Islands

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